Jazz Workshop with The CookersAs part of their western Canadian Tour, Alex Coleman and The Cookers conducted a jazz workshop for about 30 of music teacher Bill Simpson’s students at Vegreville Composite High School on April 8. Wendy Brook Festival was pleased to assist with the funding to have The Cookers demonstrate a variety of jazz styles and techniques, answer questions, and coach students on their own musical instruments within the framework of a typical 12 bar blues progression. The Cookers performed the previous evening to a full house at the Vegreville Train Station as part of their western Canadian tour.

The Cookers played four of their own compositions at the workshop including Obligatory Blues (Alex Coleman), Mudbug Shuffle (Ryan Oliver), Crosstalk (Tim Hamel) and finished with The Ramble (Ryan Oliver). The Cookers is a back-to-basics mix of bop, soul, jazz and the blues consisting of trumpeter Tim Hamel, saxophonist Ryan Oliver, pianist Richard Whiteman, bassist Alex Coleman and drummer Joel Haynes.

The workshop provided the opportunity for the students (ranging from ages 12 to 18) to have a greater appreciation of the distinctive harmony, rhythmic beat, and structure along with the improvisional nature of this highly developed musical genre. Jazz students appreciate the characteristic swinging feel that dates back to gospel music in African-American churches.

To the delight of the students, The Cookers provided a special performance to the school over the lunch time and performed four songs: The Sheriff (Ryan Oliver), Cantaloupe Island (Herbie Hancock) and Moment’s Notice (John Coltrane). I don’t ever remember school being this much fun!

The Cookers came to Vegreville as part of their western Canadian tour partially funded by the Canada Council of the Arts and included performances in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Salmon Arm, Vancouver, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Victoria.


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(Photos Courtesy of Don Harfield)